The X-Files Season 11, Episode 3
Posted by Kim
Well. I don’t know what Chris Carter was doing over the hiatus, but it sure seems like despite the trash fires that are the “Struggle” episodes, he spent his two-year break doing a deep dive on AO3 and the Gossamer Archive mining for all the best fan fiction tropes. And let me be CLEAR that I have absolutely no problem with that as long as he steer clears of the “Major Character Death” tag. (Seriously, fic writers, explain to me a thing. Why does this tag even EXIST? I understand angst, I LOVE and CRAVE angst, but why write fic if it doesn’t have a happy ending?)
Anyway, how Chris Carter managed to write this one and ACTUALLY deliver, I’ll never know. BECAUSE GUESS WHAT?
Oh yeah, I guess there was a case too. And it was a cracking good one, to be honest. “Plus One” felt like The X-Files in its prime, their “bread and butter” as Mulder put it so succinctly. The episode combines the best elements of “Pusher” and “Syzygy” (honestly you can never fail with homicidal twins) and adds a dash of Doctor Who‘s “Fear Her” for good measure. (I love that episode, IDGAF. No unwanted opinions, please.) The cold open FEELS like I’ve been transported back to my dorm room in the 90’s, curling up to watch The X-Files on Sunday nights. We open in a grungy club, on a random bro who is having perhaps too good of a time, clearly strung out on whatever party drug is of the moment. He stumbles in the crowd when he sees his own doppleganger staring at him murderously. Naturally, this freaks him the fuck out, so he gets the hell out of there. The doppleganger appears in his car and causes it to run off the road, sending the Prime version through the window.
Boom. Opening credits. With a double “I want to believe” at the end because Chris Carter is determined to have something different there for every episode this season, thus ruining the OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHH factor of yesteryear.
SOMEHOW this dude, whose name is Arkie Sievers, lives after being thrown through a windshield. His story falls in line with a seemingly random group of murders that all have a common thread: all of the victims claimed to have been killed by versions of themselves. (HOW DO WE KNOW THIS IF THEY ARE DEAD? Logic.) Naturally, this kind of thing is right up Mulder’s alley, so with a super hot flick of his jacket, he and Scully are off to investigate.
SOMEHOW, we don’t know HOW, Arkie’s story leads Mulder and Scully to a mental hospital where they walk by a room where Mulder just HAPPENS to spot a whole bunch of Hangman drawings on a patient’s wall, which gives Mulder pause. He stops to look at the drawings, spotting the name ARKIE. Who would have thought Mulder would be so lucky to just RANDOMLY stumble upon who is clearly the prime suspect? (I kid, I kid, this episode was super fun but we ALL have to admit the plot holes are the size of the Grand Canyon.) The suspect is a woman named Judy, who suffers from Multiple Personality disorder. The version Mulder and Scully meet at first essentially presents herself as a little girl who says she’s playing Hangman with her twin brother Chucky (FITTING NAME) and everything that happens is purely coincidence. Sure it is.
Here’s the thing with the ridiculousness of this case: before Arkie, the murders never really followed a pattern. But because he lived, NOW Chuck and Judy fall into one because they have to finish the game. They manage to polish Arkie off in his prison cell and then they set their sights on Arkie’s slimy lawyer, played by Not!Antonio Sabato Jr. (Seriously, Sage and I were convinced it was him.) Not!Antonio starts seeing his double everywhere, which is super inconvenient because he’s apparently a Samurai Warrior Fetishist and has a WHOLE collection of swords. As Chuck and Judy play their game, the double gets more and more determined to kill the prime version. No amount of stockpiling of swords can save him. Off with his head. And thus, Chuck and Judy turn to taking down Mulder and Scully, with each twin going after their gendered counterpart. Judy’s really got it out for Scully, one of her personalities basically calls her a dried up hag, which DOES lead to cuddle time and MORE with Mulder, so I guess we can thank her for that. Meanwhile, Chucky’s just bananas, has it out for the Government, and I GUARANTEE YOU he voted for Donald Trump.
Since Chuck and Judy are each going after Mulder and Scully and they have a lot of common letters in their last names, both of their doubles appear. The way they handle them is just SO THEM IT HURTS? Scully tries to rationalize with it as it stares at her from the backseat. Mulder, on the other hand, just tries to kick its ass. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Scully’s method appears to work better. But what really happens is Chuck and Judy, when neither is willing to compromise on who they are killing first, turn on each other, thus resulting in their own deaths. When Mulder pokes around more in Chuck’s workspace, he finds their original drawings, hanging their mom and dad. Good shit.
The takeaway from this case? Twins are really freaky and who needs logic when you have Mrs. Peacock herself, Karin Konoval, playing her dual role with such relish it’s a miracle that any of the set was still standing from all the scenery chewing. GIVE HER AN EMMY.
But none of that is why you’re reading this recap anyway. So let’s talk about why you’re really reading this.
After all his kicking and screaming about the status of Mulder and Scully’s relationship, I STILL can’t believe that we have CONFIRMED sexytimes written by Chris Carter himself. Like no innuendo, we got Gillian Anderson’s naked shoulder and the miraculous L-Shaped sheet that only exists in the television universe. We got Mulder smirking in the mirror after doing the deed and we got him making comments about her afterglow. HER AFTERGLOW. It happened, y’all. It only took 25 years.
Listen, dear readers, I hope that you have all truly enriched your life by creating an account on Archive of Our Own and jumping feet first into the delightful world of fan fiction. I HOPE you are veteran of The Gossamer Archive, where I would go running hours after an episode would end, eager to see if people were already posting episode time-stamps. Because as any avid reader of fan fic knows, the ole “There’s only one hotel room left, what are they going to DO?” trope is quite possibly the greatest trope there is, after the tried and true Fake Relationship AU. (Also known as Season Seven’s “Arcadia”) Thus anyone who knows their fan fic, knew exactly what was (probably) going to happen as soon as Mulder was like “We’ll take it.” Can you BELIEVE it took 25 years and over 200 episodes before Mulder and Scully were forced to be roomies? We are truly, truly blessed.
Okay, but because I am me, this is where I am gonna nitpick. Just what exactly IS the status of Mulder and Scully’s relationship. Are they together? Are they secretly married and trying to keep their work relationship separate from their personal one? Are they exes finding their way back to each other because they just can’t fight it anymore? (I LOVE those fics!) Are they friends with benefits, falling into bed with each other when there’s an itch they need to scratch? WHAT? Just last week in “This,” we had Scully tossing around phrases like “our home” (“OUR HOME”) which very much implies (or outright SAYS considering she used “our”) that they are shacking up again. In “Plus One,” we get Scully basically clutching her pearls at the thought of sharing a hotel room with Mulder, even though Mulder offers to sleep on the pull-out bed. Honestly, all I am asking is for a little consistency here. I can totally get on board with the Exes to Lovers thing, believe me. Just pick one theme and stick to it. IT’S NOT HARD.
Over the years, Mulder and Scully have had pretty amazing talks curled up in bed with each other, from season seven’s “Requiem” to “The Truth” to the only redeeming scene in the trash fire that is I Want To Believe. I’d even dare to say that they have their best talks in bed. When Judy’s cruel words about Scully’s age get under her skin, she seeks comfort in the arms of her partner. In every sense of the word.
While I want to scream about it ALWAYS coming back to kids with these talks (SCULLY IS A COMPLETE WOMAN WITHOUT BEING A MOTHER), my heart is so full it’s bursting every time I watch this scene because it feels so real. One of the challenges in doing a reboot of a beloved series is addressing the passage of time and the way the years have changed their dynamic. This often felt clunky in season 10, with Mulder and Scully spouting off their famous catchphrases with barely constrained looks of disdain on their faces. (Sorry, I will never get over how awful the porch scene is in “My Struggle I: The Struggle is Real.”)
This scene feels like the genuine Mulder and Scully as they ponder their future retirement (because now it feels just that much closer for them) and what their lives will look like then as they explore their tenuous new relationship. If we’re going with the whole “Exes to Lovers” thing, it makes perfect sense for Scully to question whether or not they would be in each other’s lives once they are done with The X-Files. It makes perfect sense for her to question whether Mulder wants to find anyone else and it makes perfect sense for Mulder to toss that question right back at her while looking at her like “Scully, I haven’t even glanced at another woman in at least the past 15 years, get with the program.” That is TOTALLY what his face said, the concept of finding someone else is so completely foreign to him. Besides…WHEN would he have met someone?
(Oh, I’m just going to ignore the whole section where they talk about William being a miracle cause I’m still upset about the whole CSM thing and how Chris Carter is VERY MUCH holding the bomb over their heads and is enjoying toying with the audience because WE know but Mulder and Scully DON’T and honestly, it’s still just complete and utter shit.)
Ultimately what this conversation does is affirm what Mulder and Scully mean to each other. They are each other’s constants. They are each other’s touchstones. They will always be each other’s friend and they will always tell the truth. They are this:
MULDER: Dana, if, um… early in the four years we’ve been working together… an event occurred that suggested or somebody told you that… we’d been friends together in other lifetimes… always… wouldn’t it have changed some of the ways we looked at one another?
SCULLY: Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn’t change a day.
They are this:
MULDER: But you saved me! As difficult and as frustrating as it’s been sometimes, your goddamned strict rationalism and science have saved me a thousand times over! You’ve kept me honest … you’ve made me a whole person. I owe you everything … Scully, and you owe me nothing. I don’t know if I wanna do this alone… I don’t even know if I can … and if I quit now, they win.
And they are this:
MULDER: I think what we feared were the possibilities. The truth we both know.
SCULLY: Which is what?
NO WONDER THE MOOD FUCKING SHIFTS.
(ALSO THESE ARE ALL WORDS FROM YOUR FUCKING SHOW CHRIS CARTER AND YOU WONDER WHY THE FANS WERE SCREAMING TO THE HIGH HEAVENS WHEN YOU HAD SCULLY LEAVE MULDER BECAUSE OF HIS “DEPRESSION” YOU JAG.)
Anyway. Long story short, they did it.
Listen, I know beggars can’t be choosers, especially when we’ve waited this long for something this blatant. But IS IT too much to ask for some kissing? Honestly. I’m not asking for the show to go porny, but I DO suggest that Chris Carter maybe pull out some latter seasons of Bones, which we will also never forgive for consummating the relationship for the first time OFF SCREEN, for some notes on how to make it up to us. (I suggest the laundry room scene.) It’s not that difficult. A little bit of kissing and then like…a roll over before fading to black. Simple. Easy. Hot. That’s all I’m asking for.
Until then, I GUESS I’ll deal with Scully’s sultry gravelly post sex voice telling Mulder to come back to bed. I’ll have to deal with Mulder waltzing around tits out trying to entice Scully back into bed with him. I’ll have to deal with Scully playfully shutting him down and then immediately being like “Oh why the fuck not?” I’ll have to deal with Mulder leaning by the door with a smirk on his face waiting for her because he KNEW she was full of shit.
I can deal with that. I’M FINE I SWEAR I AM.
- SOMEONE STOP GILLIAN.
— Gillian Anderson (@GillianA) January 18, 2018
- GUYS. THIS FUCKING HAPPENED.
- Can we all just appreciate David Duchovny’s BODY in that tank top? His ARMS.
- Also Scully’s whole scientific debunking of what was happening with the twins was DEFINITELY foreplay.
- Mulder ACTUALLY said “Knock three times,” you guys.
- HELP ME.
- I loved Chucky, okay? I can’t help it. I’m a sucker for whenever Mulder gets called G-Man.
- GOD BLESS THIS FANDOM.
What are your thoughts on “Plus One”? Have you recovered from it yet? Let us know in the comments.